When 15-year-old Miranda Larkin, a new Orange Park student who just moved from Seattle, went to school in a black skirt about three to four inches above her knees, she didn’t know she was in violation of Oakleaf High School’s dress code, according to an article at First Coast News.
It was only the third day of school, and she was a brand new student.
A teacher in the school noticed immediately, Miranda said. “She just points at me from across the hall, and says your skirt is too short.” A teacher sent her to the school nurse who said she had to put on another outfit — which turned out to be what Larkin’s mother described as a “shame suit” — a neon yellow t-shirt and bright red sweat pants with the words ‘DRESS CODE VIOLATION’ written across both. Miranda felt humiliated.
“She put on the outfit in the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror and just broke down. She started sobbing and broke out in hives,” said Dianna Larkin, the teen’s mother.
A spokesperson from the Clay County School District says students who violate the dress code are given the option to stay in their clothes and go to in school suspension, wear the sweats and t-shirt as punishment and go to class, or arrange for someone to bring them other clothes. Miranda says she was only given one option – she was able to leave school early and not face suspension.
Dianna Larkin says she’s filing a complaint with FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, for making her daughter’s discipline public. “I feel that by putting a kid in an outfit that says what they did wrong across their chest and down their leg is taking their private records and making them public and that’s a clear violation of their privacy rights,” she said.
The Clay County School District says the intent of the outfit is to get students back to class as quickly as possible. When it comes down to it, schools have been shaming and judging students — primarily girls — for their clothing since the advent of the dress code.
And the outfit in questions is a cute rockabilly style that it’s hard to imagine it was such an awful offense that it warranted public humiliation.
According to First Coast News, the school board attorney had the following statement:
I have given this consideration, looked at FERPA and have even asked other opinions in other districts. None of us see this a FERPA violation as it is not a personally identifiable student record. Additionally it is not displaying a discipline record to the public. If we put the kid on work detail all students would know that hi/she is being disciplined. If we put in ISS same result. Saturday school same result. Community service, same result. If we took off the words the other students would still know that the prison orange t shirts were for dress code violations. I think that the practice is okay. In Alachua county they have t shirts that say “dress code winner”. What is the difference. As to bullying? I think some parents would say that any consequence is bullying. I see no issue with the practice.
There are few boys who will be sent home for shorts that are too tight or shirts that are too revealing. How many boys do you think get sent to class in a “shame suit”?
Do you think the school is handling this the right way?